Are you currently learning Chinese or are you thinking of joining a Chinese class soon? Learning how to successfully speak Mandarin Chinese can be difficult for many people; there are multiple different tones involved, which can be tough to differentiate from each other- when you first begin to learn. Practicing tongue twisters can help you with your pronunciation, and are a lot of fun too! If you can master these ones, you will be a Chinese expert in no time.
5 Chinese tongue twisters
1.Starting off with an easier one, this tongue twister uses different variations of ‘shi’ which can mean ‘is’ and the number 10- depending on the tone. This tongue twister translates as ‘The teacher is 44, isn’t (s)he?’
老师是或不是四十四的？ lǎoshī shì sìshísì, shì bú shì?
2.This famous tongue twister plays on the word ‘ma,’ which can be used for mother, horse and scold. The meaning of this tongue twister is ‘Mother is riding a horse. The horse moves slowly. Mother chides the horse.’
妈妈骑马。 mā mā qí mǎ,
马慢， mǎ màn,
妈妈骂马。 mā mā mà mǎ.
3.The next one ‘40 is 40, 40 is not 14, 14 is not 40, 14 is 14’ plays on the similar sounds of the numbers 40 ‘sìshí’ and 14 ‘shísì.’ They are basically the numbers 10 and 4 in different orders, easy right!
四十是四十 sìshí shì sìshí
四十不是十四 sìshí bǔ shì shísì
十四不是四十 shísì bǔ shì sìshí
十四是十四 shísì shì shísì
4.This tongue twister will help you practice your pronunciation and how to eat grapes at the same time! It translates as ‘Eat the grapes but don’t spit out the skins, don’t eat the grapes but spit out the skins.’ Who knew…
吃葡萄不吐葡萄皮， chī pú táo bù tǔ pú táo pí,
不吃葡萄倒吐葡萄皮。bù chī pú táo dào tǔ pú táo pí.
5.Finally, one of the most famous Chinese tongue twister poems (and one of the most difficult). This poem even had Chinese professors trying to understand its true meaning, so see if you can figure it out!
In a stone den, a poet called Shi Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten lions.
He often went to the market to look for lions.
At ten o’clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market.
At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market.
He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die.
He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den.
The stone den was damp. He asked his servants to wipe it.
After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions.
When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.
Try to explain this matter.
石室诗士施氏，嗜狮，誓食十狮。 Shí shì shī shì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
氏时时适市视狮。 Shì shí shí shì shì shì shī.
十时，适十狮适市。 Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
是时，适施氏适市。 Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
氏视是十狮，恃矢势，使是十狮逝世。 Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shì shì.
氏拾是十狮尸，适石室。 Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shí shì.
石室湿，氏使侍拭石室。 Shí shì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shí shì.
石室拭，氏始试食是十狮。 Shí shì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
食时，始识是十狮尸，实十石狮尸。 Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
试释是事。 Shì shì shì shì.